At times, these companies do put out "studies" that appear to have been prompted by their own thinking. But if one digs a little, the reasons for the same become all too obvious.
Last week, Gartner, one of the better-known of these firms, put out a study, claiming that the Mac OS X operating system provided a more appealing desktop platform for the "enterprise" than GNU/Linux. (The use of the word enterprise baffles me - whence did it spring? Did the inspiration come from the starship Enterprise? Or is it used to indicate that a company is a creature with some initiative?)
Of course, nobody needed advice from Gartner to conclude that OS X is indeed more appealing than GNU/Linux. Any fool with a semblance of sight can see that, after using the two platforms for all of 10 minutes.
But that was only the start of Gartner's fulminations. The study, entitled "Enterprise Mac Clients Remain Limited, but Apple's Appeal is Growing", (the use of capital letters carries that much more authority, I guess) authored by Michael Silver, Neil MacDonald, Ray Wagner and Brian Prentice, went on to claim that even though they had discovered this "appeal" in OS X, the Mac was unlikely to take away any of Windows' business desktop share. No, it would only affect GNU/Linux.
And what was the basis for these conclusions? A throwaway line: "In many instances, Macs are replacing Unix and Linux workstations, rather than Windows PCs". No specifics. No company cited. No number of PCs in any study indicated. It comes from Gartner and therefore it has to be true. Fox News has a similar throwaway line: "Some people are saying..."
This kind of kite-flying is called "predicting." Sure, but even predictions need some basis, don't they? Even that crank astrologer looks at the lines in your palm and then tries to stuff you up with crap, doesn't he? But Gartner can fly these kites without a piece of string.